Self Care Practices at a Trauma Informed Child Welfare Agency

Publication Date


Document Type



Social Work


Karen Flint Stipp

Mentor Department

Social Work


There is powerful evidence that secondary exposure to trauma creates "burn out" when not managed with self-care. Trauma includes traumatic events, early-life separation from a primary attachment figure, and even the contagion of client with significant trauma. The School of Social Work provides professional instruction on trauma and practicing self-care, but that does not always follow students into their agency work. This can result in a lack of knowledge and support for self care, for social work professionals who encounter trauma related to case management. As social work agencies begin to acknowledge the impact of trauma on their employees, it should be discussed in relation to the practice of self care. It can feel selfish or counterintuitive for compassionate professionals to attune to their own needs of care, especially in the face of client trauma. However, self-care is not a luxury that is ancillary to professional assignments; rather, it makes being present empathic, empathic and effective a possibility. Self-care builds one's capacity to build relationships with clients who have experienced trauma. Limited research exists on social workers' experiences with client trauma, with few articles and publications to date on the intersection of client trauma, stress and self-care. The goal of this qualitative study is to fill this gap by interviewing staff at The Center for Youth and Family Solutions, 603 N Center St in Bloomington, IL. Focusing on the perspectives of social service workers. This provides a clearer understanding of the realities and needs of professionals serving social work clients. The questions guiding this study are (1) What are some of the traumatic stressors that impact clients? (2) In what ways is trauma-informed care valuable to the clients you serve? (3) What are the effects to you of ongoing exposure to client stress? and (4) How do workers manage self care? Participation in this study is open to staff at The Center for Youth and Family Solutions, 603 N Center St in Bloomington, IL. Researcher interviews of up to 9 staff members about the effects of client trauma on the worker, stress management, and self-care constitute the qualitative data for this study. Employee's answers are recorded electronically and transcribed and data are analyzed using constant comparative analysis.



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